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Sept. 1, 2011 Volume 33, No. 2

Visual media scholar is new director of MU Honors College


Nancy West wants fuller experience for students

Nancy M. West, a member of the University of Missouri Department of English since 1995, has been named the director of the Honors College at MU.

West joined the Mizzou faculty as an assistant professor in 1995, became an associate professor in 2001 and was promoted to full professor this year.

West, who was chair of the English department from 2004-07, replaces Stuart Palonsky, who retired as director of the Honors College after 20 years in the position.

“I’m thrilled to be serving MU as the director of the Honors College,” West said. “The Honors College has an extraordinary staff, who work very hard to enrich the academic lives of students. I look forward to collaborating with them—as well as faculty, departments and programs across campus—to build an even more dynamic, more visible college.”

West brings to the position an award-winning record of undergraduate and graduate teaching. She earned the William T. Kemper Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2004 and received two Gold Chalk Awards for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. Last spring, she was honored with the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.

“We are so fortunate to have someone like Dr. West here at Mizzou,” Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies, said. “She is so enthusiastic and so compassionate when it comes to teaching and working with students. She genuinely cares about the students and is well-respected by the students and faculty on this campus.”

A scholar of visual media, West places high value on interdisciplinary work, collaboration and public scholarship. Her first book, “Kodak and the Lens of Nostalgia” (University of Virginia Press, 2000), lead to TV appearances on the BBC and PBS as well as invited talks at such museums as The National Gallery of Art. She recently completed another book, “Tabloid, Inc.: Crimes, News, Narratives” (Ohio State UP, 2010), with Penelope Pelizzon, a former graduate student in the English department. West is currently working on a cultural history of America’s longest-running dramatic series, “Masterpiece Theatre.”

 West’s vision for the college is to provide MU students with an even fuller honors experience, involving close interaction with faculty, independent research, service learning, and civic participation.

 “We have amazing students at MU,” West said. “They are already conducting original research with faculty here and abroad, and working with campus and community programs to improve or enrich the lives of those around us. One of the Honors College’s most important responsibilities should be to forge more such connections for our students so that they’ll have even more opportunities to put their talents to use. And we need to promote these accomplishments widely. I want people across campus, across Missouri and across the world to know the extraordinary things they’re doing.”

 — Josh Murray